Ahead of his latest lecture to PR students on Friday, February 10, our Visiting Professor Stephen Waddington explores some of the developments that students can expect to see in public relations in 2017. Each issue is the start of bigger conversation about the future of practice.
- The robots are coming
We’re starting to feel the impact of machines in at least three areas of public relations: content production; content distribution and publication; and workflow. Artificial intelligence is a growing issue in public relations.
- Algorithms and bubbles
Algorithms are commonplace for searching and organising how information is displayed. But be careful as they create bubbles that insulate us from contrary opinion. We need to work hard to break out of algorithmic bubbles.
- Over reliance on data
If you’re working on a campaign for 2017 use tools to establish a hypothesis and then put them down and go into the real world to talk, and more importantly listen to your publics.
- Rethink content formats
Most press releases aren’t written for the press. Instead they’ll be posted on a corporate website and carved up into a multitude of formats for customer emails and tweets. If press releases are your primary means of communication it’s time for a rethink.
- Internet shifts to video formats
2016 has seen innovation in virtual reality. Live video could be equally disruptive. It’s a powerful form of first person storytelling. Both Facebook and Periscope have invested in tools for video producers.
- Paying to play with influencers
Each new form of media from Snapchat to YouTube, and Instagram to Twitter, has given rise to a new breed of influencers. They provide a means of building trust with specific communities through third party storytelling.
- Representing the publics we serve
Public relations is a female-led industry yet there is a significant pay gap between in favour of men. Meanwhile 91 per cent of practitioners are white and 89 per cent identify as British. We need to better represent the publics that we serve.
- Social media monopolies
In the UK Google accounts for more than 85% of internet searches. Facebook has a strong and growing platform of services including Instagram and WhatsApp. Meanwhile Google+ has fallen by the wayside. LinkedIn, now owned by Microsoft, is pursuing an advocacy, content and learning strategy.
- Social media in the enterprise
The application of social media technologies internally within an organisation have shown early promise but adoption rates are low. Behaviour, culture and technology are all issues. Facebook’s Workplace offers a potential solution.
- Internet voice disintermediation
Amazon Echo and Google Home are internet connected devices which summon up services from the internet based on voice commands. They are set to bring about another wave of internet disintermediation.
- Corporate speak
Much corporate marketing remains focused on the organisation rather than the intended public. More enlightened organisations are using new media as a means of conversation.
12 Living your values: take back control and make America great again
Whatever your view of the EU Referendum or the US Election campaigns, they were both built on a solid message. Every campaign needs a clear purpose that can be summarised in a few words. Publics are looking for a point of view.
- Trump cycle replaces the news cycle
The Trump campaign during the US election turned the exploitation of the media into an art form. This wasn’t about news cycles, they’re long dead, but the Trump cycle. Opponents struggled to counter as Trump moved onto the next story.
- Integrated Measurement Framework
The Integrated Measurement Framework guides practitioners through a series of seven steps to create a measurement approach for a campaign. AMEC’s job for 2017 is to make its framework a standard in practice throughout the profession.
15 Social capital: a community life force
Social capital isn’t something you’ll find on a profit and loss statement but it’ll be increasingly important for organisations seeking to build trust with their publics. Brands have an opportunity to help bring people together.
16 Community of practice
A close working relationship between academia and practice is a hallmark of any professional discipline. In public relations this relationship is limited. We need to learn from the body of knowledge that academic colleagues are investigating and apply it to our day jobs.
17 Are you any good?
How do you train in a profession where the skills you learn are likely to be outdated before you complete the qualification or training programme? Continuous professional development (CPD) integrated with your personal development is the only solution.
This post is based on a longer article and deck about public relations in 2017 that Stephen posted on his personal blog.
About Stephen Waddington
Stephen is a Visiting Professor in Practice at Newcastle University supporting the university and students through teaching and mentoring.
He is also is Partner and Chief Engagement Officer at Ketchum helping clients and colleagues to do the best job possible engaging with the public.